Thursday, October 13, 2005


Western Guy

When I first met Flapjack Singer, he was still using the handle Ziggy, a nickname I presume he acquired while traveling in the 60s on a hippie school bus with Wavy Gravy and other residents of The Hog Farm, many of whom ended up as unworldly participants at the event of the century for my generation—Woodstock.

It was also under the pseudonym Ziggy that Flapjack had once met Roy Rogers and Dale Evans when his hippie VW van broke down on a back country road somewhere out West, and a couple of Roy’s ranch hands roped his rig and towed it back to the machine shop for repair. As I remember it, Ziggy—now Flapjack—remarked that the cowboys weren’t particularly enthused about playing host to a drug-addled peacenik, but that their deeply-instilled code of hospitality toward anyone down on their luck fortunately overrode their prejudice against longhairs.

Seeing how Flapjack got his name partly due to his incessant gabbing, I’m not quite sure where this episode fits into the chronology of his storybook life, but I’m inclined to think it was after his arrest in either Ecuador or Peru for alleged smuggling of cocaine on the deep-sea fishing vessel he skippered while fishing anchovies off the coast of South America. Nevertheless, it kind of ties in with his previous propensity to find himself in technical if not flagrant violation of the law, which really is a shame considering his friendly, cheerful disposition and heartwarming joie de vivre.

At any rate, when Ziggy wasn’t spinning yarns about his Latin American adventures, he often recounted the time he worked on the Alaska pipeline, and how he once jumped from an airplane when the pilot pulled up into a low stall in order to prevent his momentum from propelling Ziggy and his buddy too deeply into the snow bank where they planned to recover a behemoth bulldozer they’d buried there as a nest egg. Again, providence intervened and neither Ziggy nor his pal broke their necks in the stunt nor went to jail for their exceptionally creative larceny.

Which is how I eventually came to meet Ziggy at his truck repair shop, established, I presume, on the proceeds of his Alyeska escapades. When I brought my one ton rig in for a new exhaust system, I recall thinking that if his mechanical skills were half as good as his gab, it might just be worth getting to know this charming character. As it turned out, they weren’t, but by then I’d become so enthralled by his stories that I just didn’t have the heart to take my business elsewhere. I suspect this was the case with the majority of his clientele, some of whom to this day speak with affection about his less than kosher restorations.

Around about this time, my partner and I had a couple of horses on our place and as Ziggy acquired an enthusiasm for Western culture, he and his girl friend started coming over for barbecue and trail rides. It wasn’t long before Ziggy got himself a Western hat and some Navajo blankets and Southwest Indian art, and his transition to another alias was nearly complete. But before we were going to willingly start calling him Flapjack, we figured he ought to demonstrate the ability to saddle and ride a horse, which he did. Much to his chagrin, though, he was so sore when we returned down the mountain that he had to walk around like a candy-ass city-slicker at a dude ranch. I recall his girl friend finding this eminently amusing, to the point of her suggesting the alternate handle of “Hotcake.”

So needless to say, we were sad to hear the news that Flapjack had decided to close down his shop to take a job on a ranch as a combination welder/mechanic and all-around fixit guy on the other side of the mountains near Conconully. In fact, when he phoned his girl friend to say he had a trailer all set up so she could move there with him, I offered to give her a ride and spend some time hunting and camping with them in the high plateau pines.

A couple of weeks after I returned home, his girl friend called to tell us about Flapjack’s improving marksmanship with his new pearl-handled six-gun with which he’d managed to shoot several holes through the floor of the trailer narrowly missing the terrified rats that had managed to sneak in the screen door looking for dog food. About a month after that, they moved back to town after extinguishing a brushfire set off in a wheat field where Flapjack was welding up a broken piece of machinery.

After a year or so of fixing rigs in the side yard, though, Ziggy decided to head south and his girl friend north, and we sort of lost touch until we decided to look him up one time on our way back from Oregon, and were delighted to find Flapjack—now Tim—was happily married to his high school sweetheart, playing with his model train set, and raising goats on the several acres he’d bought when a bank finally caught up with him to tell him about the eighty thousand dollars he’d forgotten about in his truck shop business account he’d neglected to close out several years earlier.

And so it was, that things had come full circle for Ziggy aka Flapjack aka Hotcake, and his many and varied misadventures. Nowdays, the only thing to worry about is his new-found fascination with the art of dynamiting tree stumps.


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